26 October 2015

Midwife Reminiscence

I used to walk through the charming streets of Brooklyn to local midwife offices, often on the ground floors of brownstones. It was my dream idea of a prenatal visit and I figured, why not get to know the midwives now, before I get pregnant (so I won't have to scramble and find someone later)?

I went to them for my regular check-ups, but mostly for a connection and a peak into that world of womanhood and birth. Perhaps their natural touch might kick in my fertility? Perhaps they knew something I didn't know?

The midwives were wise women, for sure.



Educated in miracles.

They seemed to know all about the power of a woman; the sacredness of childbirth.

It turns out those appointments were as close to childbirth as I got, as I never did get pregnant.

But I'll never forget one of those visits.

This woman knew what to ask me, as a wise one would.

She asked if I was happy in my relationship.

I told her a tidbit or two. Right there behind closed doors with women and pregnant bellies in the waiting room.

And she looked at me woman to woman, and boldly said please no - don't continue the path to get pregnant. If you are in a toxic environment, take care of that first. I sensed she was telling me to run. I sensed she could see right through me. 

Sometimes you need that look from another.

Sometimes you need someone to make your spine chill, no matter how hard it is to hear.

It usually leads to rethinking things. It often leads to seeing yourself differently. It often gives birth to a new voice in your head that says it's time for something to change.

Love to all,


Dear women, are you in a toxic relationship? If so, maybe you wish someone knew that? If you don't have someone telling you this already, I will tell you - that you are worthy of kindness and love; you are worthy of a good partner. Know that healing your soul is possible, no matter how deep you're in it. 

We have mentoring sessions available. We specialize in Choosing Happiness, even when it doesn't feel possible. 


  1. Oh how I wish someone would have said something to me.

    1. Dear Ruth - sending you so much love - and so much belief that a good life can begin at anytime, at any point on the path. Certainly that "good life" will look very different depending on where we begin - but it will always, always involve learning to react in a different way to our circumstances and to people in our lives. Much love to you on the path !

  2. I ache for women in this situation. I've had three children, and I love, love, love the moment when they ask me during my first prenatal appointment: "Do you feel safe at home?" and I get to answer "YES!" I feel so grateful to have a good man in my life, that I don't have to raise these babies alone, and that I absolutely feel 100% safe and loved both emotionally and physically. In the same breath I feel sorrow for the women who don't and send up a prayer for them and WISH and HOPE for a better world.

    1. Thanks, Joelle. That truly is a massive blessing. What do you think are some of the key factors that led to a relationship like that? I'm always curious about what it's like for others.

      I feel the same way you do about my relationship with Danny. On our end it happened due to lots of internal work we both did (work to be whole, work to free ourselves of fear, work to pursue virtues in the face of challenges). At the same time, it still feels like a miracle that we met! I wish for that same miracle for every person. But I also know that a beautiful, supportive relationship is never a requirement for PEACE. That is something more - something more powerful; something that could never be provided by a relationship. And now I'm rambling on... have a great day. :)

    2. I love how you said that a beautiful relationship is never a requirement for peace, and I truly believe that we should be in a good place within before we bring anybody else into our lives.

      Both my husband and I were in this state of peace with ourselves when we met. We were in college, and like you and Danny, we had both been working on being whole. We never would've recognized it as that, but looking back, that's exactly how we felt. Whole. We became friends right away and had no romantic intentions whatsoever. That made friendship easy, and we quickly learned everything about each other because there was no pressure to impress. Romance came a few months later and we got married a year and a half after that.

      Friendship to me has been essential to any success we've had in marriage. We can still talk for hours, or say nothing at all and be completely comfortable. We laugh and joke all the time. We back each other up and help each other be better, and yet we completely accept where each other is on their personal journey and avoid trying to change the other for our own selfish reasons. We don't hold our faults against each other. We both apologize after a fight because no matter who's right, we were both causing contention. We don't keep score. We just pitch in. We check up on each other. I could go on and on.

      We're certainly not perfect. We get annoyed with each other and have our arguments, and we've certainly discovered each others' quirks and we've seen each others' weaknesses but those things aren't discouraging. When I think about all this, I know we do this because we love each other as friends, and that's what's kept us going strong.

  3. This piece was simple and short yet it really brings your message through. The image in the beginning made me feel calm and reminisce like the title of your blog post. Your message and you reaching out to women in today's society and making them realize their worth, was really brought about here. The description of pregnant women during your encounter and describing that you sometimes need someone to chill your spine to really get through to you, yourself, really stood out. Great piece!

  4. Mara, I just had pretty much the same experience! I have a trusted obgyn who has been my doctor for years. At my last appointment she asked me about my relationship, and after I revealed a few details, she said to me what I had been feeling for years but was too afraid to acknowledge. I left that appointment determined to make the changes to my life that I had been feeling were right but that I had been second guessing. Thank goodness for kind and insightful women like my doctor and your midwife. I'm going through some hard changes at the moment and have appreciated your perspective on self worth and starting over. Thanks for this post! xoxo

    1. Anon - hello! I can't believe we had the same experience. That's amazing. I'd say we have some very good and insightful doctors.

      I'm in the camp that believes our relationships and emotional states absolutely affect our physical health. So it seems perfect that a medical doctor would ask about those things routinely - and especially if physical symptoms arise.

      Also, lots of love to you at this time as you face this next chapter. May you know your own power - may you believe that it can work miracles

  5. What a smart and brave midwife to take a risk and tell you the truth. We all need people in our lives like that.

    With insights like that in your life, why do you think you stayed with your ex until he left you? Do you still believe people should stay in marriages without considering divorce, or would you have left your ex sooner in hindsight?

    1. Hi Anon - such good questions. This little moment with the midwife was early on - it was a little seedling you could say and mostly was a catalyst for a new inner dialogue in my head. I was beginning to feel that what was happening really wasn't ok and not healthy. I needed to see if I could do things in a different way; I needed to work on healing; I needed to set boundaries as an act of respect for myself.

      I stayed with him as, at that time, I continued to have hope that things would improve. I hadn't yet considered divorce at all. I really believed that we could still have a great life together. Also, divorce was also very foreign to me. And my self worth was also just so bad that leaving seemed like it would make things even worse for me. I was hanging onto it with all I had (at the time). Also, in a lot of ways, we also had a fantastic life together. It truly was amazing - in terms of our friendship, social network, lifestyle in Brooklyn, our home, travels, sex life, opportunities, shared goals, etc. As time progressed on and we both started on a path of healing, we began making some massive progress and our marriage and connection did seem to really improve, as well. So at that point, the hope for our marriage and life together was even greater and we had even started to try for children again. And it was during that time that things came to a screeching halt and he had a change of heart.

      When I look back, I actually don't ever think I wish I had left him sooner. I couldn't be more grateful for the entire experience as it ALL led to me learning the greatest lessons of my entire life. He was also a wonderful human being and we had INCREDIBLE experiences together. I have many fond memories of it all, despite all the painful times, too. Also, I was a completely different person then and didn't have the perspectives on life that I have today. I feel I was just doing the best I knew how at the time. I feel that about him, too. He also was doing the best that he knew how. And I'm glad that he followed his heart. I hope it has led to a more beautiful life for him.

      As for other people's marriages - ha. Every situation is so extremely unique. And even in a bad situation, someone may have a different pace, a different level of hope, a different level of tolerance, a different motive. So it's hard to say if someone should stay or leave - or when. It's really person to person and likely depends more on their state of being opposed to the actual circumstances before them. As for staying in a bad marriage just for the sake of staying - without ever considering a divorce - I'm actually not in favor of that, personally. I do think there are circumstances in which divorce could be a good idea. Especially if someone is continually having trouble healing or thriving or surviving in that environment and is struggling again and again to make progress - I could see that taking yourself off of Mount Everest could be the best thing for someone (and all involved). While I do value marriage for all that it teaches us and for the great beauty that can come of it - I also see people reaching those levels of beauty and learning due to a divorce.

  6. I love hearing stories like that...there is such a tenderness that comes from strangers connecting on a purely human level...she cared not because she knew you, but because of the human to human connection. I too have had similar experiences and it is so calming to feel these rays of love coming from someone who doesn't actually know you personally. It's an interesting connection.

    Switching gears here, I have a question...and I feel like I've asked and we've discussed this before, but I'm either a slow learner or still curious...I feel like the answer to the idea of toxic relationships is simply, "get out!" I remember a post you did a long time ago on dating and if a guy does, A, B, C, or D then RUN! And the thing is, I found myself identifying with some of those toxic behaviors. Not as extreme, but yep. Other times I have felt myself relating to your former spouse as well. Having grown up in a toxic/dysfunctional home it's taken me a long, long time to unravel some of these patterns and I feel very much that I am still in the midst of learning and re-learning a better way to be and live. That being said, by no means do I consider myself a giant, toxic mess who is barely scraping by and ruining the lives of those around me--I get that in everything there are degrees. I'm a good mom, wife, and friend. However, certain family relationships are still very difficult for me though and I struggle big-time with some people in my life. A big part of getting past all of this has been removing the shame I felt/feel for coming from a toxic environment and at times displaying those toxic behaviors myself....I remember sitting in church as a kid and having a primary teacher tell all of us to "make sure you marry someone who comes from a good family" and I thought, welp...I guess she's saying no one should ever marry me. I hope that you understand I am by no means suggesting that you should have stayed with your husband or anything, but for years I have been wondering about how your teachings would and should apply to those you consider "toxic." Moreover, beyond simply getting out of any toxic relationship, how do we come to see those people more holistically and how can we navigate relationships with them? You can divorce a spouse, but not a child/father/mother. I guess I have always wondered, what advice would you give your spouse (someone who constantly demeaned you, made you feel less than, etc) or others whose struggle stems not from being on the receiving end of that behavior, but rather from being on the giving end?

    1. Thank you for this comment, Miggy. I was wondering the same thing and when I read your comment it clicked. I, too, have felt immense shame growing up in an emotionally (and occasionally physically) abusive home. I, however, did not recognize the dysfunction in my family as a child and thought when I married my husband I would be a loving, healthy wife. I was surprised to see myself doing the same things my mom did when I was a child. I have sought therapy and I'm getting help. But I admit to feeling shame for not being better and being able to give my husband the loving connection he needs. Not always, but sometimes, I feel I am a toxic partner in my marriage.

    2. Wow Miggy. Thanks for your honesty and courage. Vulnerability like this makes for really healing conversations. Facebook is full of memes about "cutting out" toxic people, and while I think that sometimes it's not the ideal, it might be necessary (at least temporarily) for personal healing. Having said that, I also believe there has to be a loving way to live and engage with people who are the product of their upbringing or other dysfunctional circumstances and relationships. I *think* this is where boundaries might come in, although I'm still trying to sort that out myself.

    3. Some great comments from Miggy and others that identify with what she wrote...Mara and I have been talking about this as well and will probably respond in a post instead of the comments!

      Thanks all!

    4. hehehe....you fell right into my trap. :)

      Kidding, but of course not kidding as I've always hoped for a post or two about this.

      However, I'd like to fill in a few holes in my comment above so as to foster a little more understanding. First, when I said that the answer to toxic relationships is always "get out," I wasn't specifically saying that your blog is the only place I hear this (and to be fair, I certainly don't think you say this as some definitive solution--although at times I have definitely gotten that message from a post or two)...I think this is a common sentiment espoused by everyone from Dr. Phil to your hairdresser. Often people will talk about a relationship as being "unhealthy" and the truth is relationships are about as unhealthy as life itself. We can't fully escape trauma, pain, negativity...and trying to do so can often lead to more pain. (I know this seems counter to everything you guys teach, but in my mind I don't think it is. I'm talking about acceptance vs. denial and reconciliation/forgiveness vs. cutting people out of your life.) And when I talked about degrees, I was meaning that I definitely recognize there are some people/situations WAY more toxic than others that certainly merit "getting out." I totally get that.

      I almost didn't write my above comment, and then I almost did it anonymousely but I feel like this slow stripping away of the shame, the embracing of my past and my present self has been extremely healing. I'm so glad it resonated with others and I'm excited to hear what you guys have to say.

    5. I'm glad you wrote what you did, and I'm glad you felt you could stick a name behind it as well. Thanks for adding the clarification.

  7. Very informative and interesting post.It is really a big help. Thank you so much for sharing it with.I am learning, thank you


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